Concert Review – Manchester Orchestra, Balance and Composure, and Kevin Devine at Terminal 5, NYC

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Photo by:  Ashley Silva

 

Terminal 5 was packed to its 3,000 person capacity Thursday, May 22 as Manchester Orchestra came to town, bringing along friends Balance and Composure and Kevin Devine and the Godamn Band. All three of the acts have released albums within the past two years that were made to played live. Manchester Orchestra’s Cope is a raw, punch you in the mouth, sort of rock and roll album, full of huge distorted guitars accompanied by Andy Hull’s soaring voice. Balance and Composure’s The Things We Think We’re Missing is an emo-grunge album that hones Nirvana’s Nevermind but also poses aggression and melody in a way similar to Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. Kevin Devine has released two albums in the past year, entitled Bulldozer and Bubblegum respectively, that transcend his usual acoustic power pop as well as his love for loud pop punk.

Kevin Devine and the Godamn Band started the show off, coming out to a cheesy country song that was apparently chosen by their sound guy. They got right into it, playing their spastic form of pop punk that is undoubtedly influenced by early 2000 Brand New and blink-182. Kevin Devine hopped around stage doing his best impression of Peter Cottontail. At one point, Devine started to sing the overplayed Nickelback song “How You Remind Me”, but thankfully retracted from the chorus into one of his own jams. One exciting part of Devine’s set was when he went into his ballad “Cotton Crush” and the road crew quickly set up a second drum set on stage, as a guest drummer came out to join them. While the second drummer didn’t do much to differentiate himself from the other drummer, it was pretty rock and roll. Kevin Devine and the Godamn Band got the crowd moving and prepared them for the night of excitement that was to come.

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Photo by: Ashley Silva

On comes Balance and Composure after about a 20 minute intermission. Behind them hung a large white banner displaying their name in a simple, lower-cased font. By the sound board in the back of the room was an oil-wheel projector that spun tie-dye colored blobs around on their banner. While the background was mesmerizing, it didn’t take away from the epic set that was about to happen. Balance went into their hit single from their debut album “Quake”. As the guitars lulled the crowd into a trance, lead singer Jon Simmons casually wandered over to the microphone, just to announce to the crowd, “Bang your fucking head”, just before the song dropped. The energy in Terminal 5 was electric and the crowd came alive in full force from that point on. Balance mixed in a variation of songs from both of their albums, feeding off the crowds energy. Fans were crowd surfing and opening up push-pits everywhere possible inside the venue, mimicking scenes of past years’ Warped Tours. Balance and Composure, on their largest tour to date, playing alongside a band in Manchester Orchestra that has influenced their music in various ways, showed no nerves, and won the crowd over with their loud, emotional songs.

Now for the main course, the beautifully chaotic, Manchester Orchestra. Opening the stage up to its full capacity and displaying a large banner, simply reading COPE behind them, the men from Atlanta took the city stage, opening up with their single from their second album “Shake it Out”. It was almost like they knew that they crowd would freak out once they heard those opening notes and the tambourine hits because the place literally erupted. Not one person in the venue was not singing along to the words, “Shake it out, shake it out. God I need another round, another round, another round, another I can feel it now.” Manchester went through a set which suprisingly only included four songs from Cope. The set was very heavy in songs from their second album Mean Everything to Nothing. It also included a Bad Books cover which included Kevin Devine joined them on stage to end their set. Of course once they left the stage the fans began the “one more song” chant. To the fans excitement, they came out with a vengeance, with their first single from Cope, “Top Notch”. The crowd seemed to have its own pulse and moved along with every song throughout the encore, until Manchester finally closed the night with “Only One”, where Hull proclaims, “I am the only one who thinks I’m going crazy, and I don’t know what to do”, while the entire crowd seemed to feel his emotion and sing along.

The show was loud, fun, exciting, and inspiring all in one package. Every band knew how to work the crowd and feed off of their energy and emotion. Each band also nearly replicated their sound from their albums, from every note hit, to each bit of guitar feedback. These three groups worked perfectly together and it would be surprising to not see some of them on tour together sometime in the near future.

“Loom” Frameworks (by Chase Montani)

With the recent surge of melodic post-hardcore, thanks to releases from Touché Amoré, Deafheaven, La Dispute, and Pianos Become the Teeth in the past two years, it’s been a breath of fresh air to see this new era of unmatched creativity and willingness to experiment. Frameworks clearly wanted to get in on the action. While Frameworks is definitely the most spastic of the bunch, they are also the most dynamic. Their debut album “Loom” shows off the potential that has been building around them since their first EP “Every Day is the Same” was presented to the scene in 2011. Frameworks caught the attention of Alternative Press and were featured in their “AP&R” section, as an upcoming unsigned act that revealed their formation was driven by the fact that they “really wanted to find an efficient way to waste a lot of money, quit our jobs and drop out of school.” Hailing from the musical hotbed that is Gainesville, Florida, which has produced acts such as Less Than Jake, Against Me!, and Hot Water Music, the “tropical screamo” five-piece are making their case that they should be mentioned in the conversation when talking about the southern city.

Frameworks enlisted Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Joyce Manor) to produce “Loom” which proved to be a perfect fit for both parties. Shirley’s presence is immediately felt on the opening track “Disquiet”, clocking in at just 23 seconds, with an acoustic guitar strumming among the opening of doors and background whistles. The album shows off a raw, yet superb quality, with guitars full of depth and drums that are felt strongly with every hit. Vocalist Luke Pate flails his voice across the remaining ten songs with such sentiment, that it doesn’t even matter that you can barely understand what’s coming out of his mouth; much in the way George Clark’s vocals are felt on Deafheaven’s “Sunbather”. Yet Pate’s angst and despair are felt, whether you can understand him or not.

Frameworks display their love for trialing in every track. The title track breaks down into a convulsive period of confusion, where the listener cannot be even sure that a guitar could sound such a way. “True Wealth” finishes with a guitar lick played in reverse that instantly lulls you in, with a methodical drum pattern guiding you right to the end. “Rosie” contains some of the most intensive drumming in the album, layered over distorted bass that grabs you and doesn’t want to let go. “Bright and New” begins with a beat that will have you bopping your head back and forth, then takes you through a series of chaotic verses, only to let you down gently with a shoegaze inspired ending that will have you saying “how the hell did this end up here?”

The instrumentals conveyed by Frameworks aren’t the only imaginative aspect of the album. Pate has stated that “Loom” is largely a concept album, debating the idea that he himself will look out of his window and realize that he won’t be able to have the chance to interact with most of the people that pass, and how this idea looms over him. However, the concept isn’t solely felt in the lyrics, as the songs themselves go from upbeat and energetic to a heavier and darker section, only to come back full circle to a more uplifting tone with the album closer, “Agreeable Thoughts”, which begins with what appears to be the sound of rain underneath some of the nicest sounding, reverb immersed guitar and builds up until the album perfectly comes to a close.

“Loom” seems to have what it takes to become an instant classic for screamo and post-hardcore fans of all types. It has tracks that appeal to the fans of heavy, dark hardcore, while also appealing to fans of melodic chaos. Frameworks may be rookies in the scene as far as full-length albums go, but are by no means rookies to making well thought out, imaginative music.

“Loom” is available on April 29 and comes courtesy of Topshelf Records. You can catch them on tour through May alongside Gates and Tiny Moving Parts.

“Rooms of the House” La Dispute (by Chase Montani

Rooms of the House Limited Edition Bundle“There are moments here only yours and mine; Tiny dots on an endless timeline”

Jordan Dreyer strains his voice in and out of convoluted yelps, explaining this endless timeline that occurs in his own mind on the track “Woman (in mirror)”. Arguably the best lyricist in the post-hardcore scene, Dreyer may have just outdone his last performance on Wildlife. La Dispute has been a band for ten years now and have released three studio albums and seven extended plays, but nothing compares to what they have done with Rooms of the House. Rooms challenges everything the band has put out to date and is the most introspective, vivid, cohesive effort they have produced.

The writing process for Rooms took place in a cabin in the upper peninsula of Michigan. From there, the band took their songs to Philadelphia, where producer Will Yip (Circa Survive, Balance and Composure, Title Fight) helped to shape the sound the band envisioned on their cabin retreat. It was La Dispute’s first time working with Yip, but proved to be a seamless transition while the band was able to reproduce their classic sound, and were also able to utilize Yip’s recording talents to the max. Every guitar tone, drum hit, bass pluck, and vocal shriek is presented directly and clearly.

While the production on the album is superb, the real kicker is Dreyer’s lyrics. Dreyer’s voice is the trademark that is La Dispute, and the cluttered words that display the kind of stories you read in novels is the substance that solidifies the band. The idea of Rooms of the House is an intertwining of actual life experiences from Dreyer and drummer Brad Vander Lugt (Dreyer’s cousin), with fictional characters, shaping this story of a breakup and what is to happen to the couples’ possessions once the relationship dwindles. While La Dispute is accustomed to putting out work with complex themes, this one goes above and beyond.  It captures stories from Dreyer’s and Vander Lugt’s relatives, as can be seen on “The Child We Lost 1963”. The track is written from the perspective of Vander Lugt’s dad who experienced his mother (Dreyer and Vander Lugt’s grandmother) birthing a stillbirth. The song explores Vander Lugt’s father’s curiosity and lack of understanding in his youth as to what happened to his sister, and then reflecting and realizing what had happened. Once again, the complexity is on another level thematically. Also there are several trigger words that recur through several songs such as “radio”, “wind blowing”, “coffee steaming”, “cars”, “bridges” and “basement”. The recurrence of these words throughout different tracks helps to make the album feel as one coherent piece, along with its musical elements.

The songwriting is also on another level for La Dispute. While they have always put out articulate work, none have come close to this. The guitars complement each other throughout, always making sure that they are not interfering with Dreyer’s poetry, but instead supplementing it. “Woman (in mirror)” starts off like something off of Radiohead’s In Rainbows with soft programming and clean finger picking, then clearly takes form into a La Dispute track once Dreyer’s voice comes in. “Stay Happy There” has the intensity of classic La Dispute with the intricacy that has come with the band’s growth. “Woman (reading)” provides some of the clearest visuals of the whole record, talking about a girl reading in a living room, while the perspective is based from a man in the room over writing poetry and going over his own meta-commentary. While it provides the strongest visuals it is also the best constructed song on Rooms, with its head-bobbing drumming that instantly draws you in, smooth bass line guiding you through the story, and airy reverb-filled guitars. The album closer “Objects in Space” feels like Dreyer at a poetry open mic night in a coffee shop with a band backing his every move as he speaks about several objects and what they all could mean, or if they mean anything at all.

La Dispute just might have put out the record of 2014. Sure it’s early, but maybe this will give some other bands incentive to step up their songwriting. It’s amazing what they have been able to do and how prolific they are, while Dreyer seems to just be able to write endlessly descriptive stories at will. Apparently he experienced a bout with writer’s block a few weeks before the studio. You know who else experienced writer’s block during an album’s writing process? Thom Yorke during the writing process for Radiohead’s Kid A. It seems that genius comes from writer’s block, and La Dispute’s Rooms of the House is pure genius. Rooms of the House is available March 18 via Better Living Records. You can catch them on tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Mansions this Spring.

The Guru – Go Easy

 

 

The Guru is not only one of my favorites, but a favorite of WQAQ.  Hearing their album “Go Easy” completely reassured my love for their music. In some of their songs, such as their first track, “Go Easy” the incorporation of saxophone and other various instruments make it extremely catchy. Their second track, “Indian Day” is another one of my favorites. There’s no way anyone could listen to this song without wanting to dance. If you haven’t been convinced to listen to this album yet, they have a song called “Guacamole.” Who doesn’t like Guacamole?

If you ever want to brighten your day I highly suggest putting on this album.

Why you should know-Echosmith’s “Talking Dreams”

Echosmith’s debut album “Talking Dreams” was released in October of last year, and select students at Quinnipiac were lucky to see these young music-hopefuls play this past January.

They’ve already been labeled as a Band You Need to Know by AP Magazine, and I can see why. From a live perspective, I commend them because they found a way to transform a small gymnasium and get the crowd going for an hour long set. This was my first exposure to this band, and it got me curious to hear how the band’s first album sounds.

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